Category Archives: Kano

Governor Ibrahim Shekarau on Hisbah, censorship, and Kannywood in the Presidential Debates

For those who did not see the Nigerian Presidential Debates, between General Muhammadu Buhari, Nuhu Ribadu, and Governor Ibrahim Shekarau, you can watch the debates online, here:

I have transcribed the questions Governor Shekarau was asked regarding the hisbah, censorship, and Kannywood during the debates. Emphasis in red mine:

Timecode: 42:56

Moderator: Now Malam Shekarau, Nigeria is a plural society and yet in the state that you govern, Kano State, the hisbah, which is the morality police, is known to brutally enforce sharia and in the process sometimes trampling on people’s rights as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution. How do you reconcile this intolerance with your desire to be the leader of a country as diverse as Nigeria.

Shekarau: Thank you very much. In the first place, I do not agree that the hisbah was brutalizing and overriding the constitutional right of our citizens. We did not just wake up and create the hisbah without going through the legislation.  We used the same constitutional provision that allowed any state to create any policy, any program, any law that will maintain law and order within the state. The hisbah is no more than what today you call community policing. We have the hisbah in virtually every community. Their duty is to ensure there is peace, there is law abiding, and this is exactly what they do. It is those who violate the rules of the land, and we did challenge anyone, whoever thinks that the hisbah has done anything to him contrary to the rules and regulations that rule the land to take his case to the law courts and challenge the creation of the hisbah. So we didn’t just by the wave of a hand create the hisbah, it went through the legislation. There was law promulgated. In fact, the first item on the law of the hisbah is that the hisbah is to assist the Nigerian police in the maintenance of law and order.  (Clapping)

Moderator: Now, you say that but in practical terms the impact of the hisbah in Kano has included killing a film industry that was providing employment, what is known in Nigeria as Kannywood. So there has been an exodus of filmmakers out of Kano, who get harassed when they are on shoots, who have been asked to submit their scripts for inspection, and a total disregard of the people’s rights to express themselves through art in that particular way.

Shekarau: No, I think that is totally wrong. The hisbah has nothing to do with the censorship. We have a full fledged censorship board, created by law through the legislation. And the censorship board has created rules and regulations that govern the conduct of any film industry. We have a right to decide what is right for the community. The government has the moral responsibility to protect the right, the interest, the instant transformation (?) of the society. (Clapping). So all we did, all we did, we said, if you want to register and run a film industry, you should comply with A,B, C, D, F, and we told anybody who feels any of these rules and regulations contradicts the provision of the  constitution of  the Federal Republic of Nigeria should challenge us in court, and nobody has done that anyhow.

Moderator: You seem to be very strong in terms of protecting the rights of the majority. What about the rights of the minority inside the state that you govern.

Shekarau: We are protecting. In fact it may interest you to know that Kano state today is the most peaceful state in Nigeria. If you ask any of the so-called minority or non-indigene, they are quite happy, they are quite peaceful. In fact, today, you will be surprised to find that those you call non-indigenes or even the non-Muslim prefer to go for settlement of disagreement within the community either to the hisbah court or to the censorship board. We don’t have any problem at all. The rules are working. The society has accepted it. The film industry is thriving very well. All we say is abide by the rules and regulations. And there is no community that will live without guiding principles, without rules and regulations and will think that there will be discipline and order in that community.

Although I thought the most impressive performance in the debate came from the moderator, Kadaria Ahmed, who had no qualms with interrupting these “big men” with hardtalk style questions (and would gladly vote her for president if I had a vote), from the feedback I saw on Facebook and Twitter, the majority opinion seemed to be that Governor Shekarau “won” the debate. He did speak eloquently and seemed well-prepared.

However, in terms of his response to the questions above, one might want to keep in mind a few things, and I will focus here only on what I know about the government’s interaction with the film industry, and leave aside the question about the hisbah, whom I’ve heard praised for their intervention in police corruption as well as railed against for alleged “abuses”.

Shekarau claimed :

“we told anybody who feels any of these rules and regulations contradicts the provision of the  constitution of  the Federal Republic of Nigeria should challenge us in court, and nobody has done that anyhow.”


“We don’t have any problem at all. The rules are working. The society has accepted it. The film industry is thriving very well.

From my observations of the interaction between the Kano State Censorship Board and the Hausa film industry based in Kano (and, most recently, in Kaduna) for the past three years, these statements, especially the claim that there has been no legal challenge to censorship implementation, are a bit disingenuous. Below find copied a list of blog posts I have written since 2009 on legal challenges that have been made either to the Kano State government, the Kano State Censorship Board, the Kano State police, and or the head of the censor’s board in his personal capacity.

Here are just a few examples.

On 12 February 2009, I posted an interview with Sani Muazu, President of the Motion Pictures Practitioners Association of Nigeria, about the various lawsuits against the Kano Censor’s Board that MOPPAN was involved in. He told me:

Well, you know, we started this whole process of going to court with our case on Hafsah when it was arrested in the market, and we challenged the authority of the Kano Censors Board to do so. We have since then initiated another suit against the Kano Censors Board, as a national body, that is MOPPAN, challenging the legality of the board as well as bringing out the issues to do with conflict between the National Film and Video Censors Board and the state Censor’s Board as enacted by the state assembly. It is interesting that ever since we did that, we expected the Kano State censors board to allow status quo to remain until when these issues were clearly explained by the legal authorities. But the state censor’s board has gone on to arrest our members indiscriminately without any cogent reasons.

On 16 February 2009, I posted another interview with Dr. Ahmad Sarari, the then Vice-President of MOPPAN and brother of the filmmaker Hamisu Lamido Iyan Tama. Iyan Tama was at that time in Kano’s Goron Dutse Prison after being sentenced in a mobile court for supposedly illegally selling his Zuma-film festival award winning film in Kano. (Iyan Tama has since been cleared of all charges). In addition to my questions about his brother’s case, which you can read by clicking on the link, Dr. Sarari also spoke about the court cases MOPPAN was involved in:

What principally we needed was an injunction restraining Kano State Censors Board from attacking, harassing, humiliating and imprisoning our members. We dragged four bodies to the court.  One is National Film and Video Censor’s Board for issuing a license to our members which gives them the right to exhibit, to sell, and show their films throughout Nigeria, yet a particular state attacks or arrests them for doing that, and they have not come out and said anything. Is the registration they issue our members fake or does it not have jurisdiction in Kano? So here I’m saying there’s a clash between the national and the state jurisdiction of two boards. What we understand in accordance with discussion with our lawyers is that when there is a clash between state and federal law, the federal law takes precedence, so does the interpretation of that in the court. We dragged the Kano State Censors Board to court for its action. We dragged the DG of the Kano State Censor’s Board for the guidelines he issued out which we believe are quite unconstitutional. They contradict some fundamental human rights because the guidelines are too stringent and are quite unbearable. And we dragged the speaker, Kano State House of Assembly for allowing the section of the law establishing the board which contradicts national law. We need them to review the law. We have to look at the laws establishing the board because most of them contradict national laws.  That’s why we dragged the four of them to the court.

The case was going fine in the court. We brought our evidence. They said we had to exclude the DG of the censor’s board out of the case. Our lawyer vehemently defended that he had to be in. They said we had to include the Kano State government. We said we sued Censor’s Board and the state house of assembly, because the state assembly are the lawmakers, so Kano State Government is automatically included in the case. He slated 26 of October for the final ruling of the case, and unfortunately [Sarari laughs]… there was this strike [of court workers]. They just resumed this month. So we are just urging our lawyer to find which date are they going to give, and we are very much hoping that the ruling is going to go in our favour.

On 27 March 2009, I sat in on a case in which the Federal High Court struck down the objections filed by the Kano State Censorship Board to MOPPAN’s lawsuit.

The last I checked, this lawsuit is still in the courts, two years later.

There have been other lawsuits, such as the one posted by Iyan Tama in a personal capacity over alleged defamation of character by Abubakar Rabo Abdulkareem, the Head of the Kano Censor’s Board on DITV, Kaduna. The case was settled out of court.

On July 21, 2010, I reported that a lawsuit was filed at a Kaduna State high court:

between the applicants 1. Ashiru Sani Bazanga, 2. Mohammed Rabiu Rikadawa, 3. Aliyu Abdullahi Gora, 4. Sulaiman Sha’ani, 5. Musa Aminu, 6. Jamilu Adamu, 7. Abubakar Sani, 8. Tahir I. Tahir, 9. Tijjani Asase, 10. Yusuf Haruna, 11. Yakubu Lere, and 12. Adam Zango and the respondents 1. Commissioner of Police, Kano State; 2. Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Kano State, 3. Chief Magistrate Court 25 Kano, Kano State; 4. Abubakar Rabo. The applicants are seeking damages of Ten Million Naira as compensation for the “violation of the applicants fundamental human rights.”

The Kaduna lawsuit was filed after Kano State Police were sent to arrest the above named filmmakers on an accusation that they had supposedly sent the DG of the Kano State Censor’s Board, Abubakar Rabo Abdulkareem, a death threat by text message. Aliyu Gora II, the editor of FIM Magazine, was the only one the police were able to find, and he spent nearly a week without trial in Kano’s Goron Dutse prison, after being transported by police from Kaduna to Kano. The suit was the latest in a series of lawsuits following Rabo’s alleged defamation of the Hausa film industry on DITV Kaduna.

Other Posts, in chronological order, that may be of interest in learning about the relationship between the Kano State Censorship Board and the Hausa film industry:

On the Current Censorship Crisis in Kano, posted13 January 2009

Kano State High Court Chief Justice Postpones Iyan-Tama’s Appeal posted 22 January 2009

2:15am Raid on Iyan-Tama’s Family posted 23 January 2009

Iyan-Tama’s Case Not Listed posted 26 January 2009

Triumph/Trust Editorial Convergences posted 29 January 2009

Interviews with Alhaji Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, Director General of the Kano State Censorship Board, and Dr. Ahmad Sarari, Vice President of the Motion Pictures Practitioners Assocation of Nigeria posted 30 January 2009

The Mysterious Asabe Murtala/Muktar Writes Again posted 10 February 2009

Interview with Sani Mu’azu, President of Motion Pictures Practitioner’s Association of Nigeria (MOPPAN) posted 12 February 2009

Interview with Alhaji Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, Director General of the Kano State Censorship Board posted 13 February 2009

A Surprising Move by MOPPAN, and my friend Sulaiman Abubakar (MPEG) arrested on Tuesday posted 15 February 2009

Interview with Dr. Ahmad Sarari, Vice President of MOPPAN and brother of Iyan-Tama posted  16 February 2009

More Arrests along Zoo Road yesterday, and my article on Iyan Tama makes IPS front Page posted 17 February 2009

Update on the Iyan-Tama Case: Bail Hearing set for 5 March posted 19 February 2009

Updates on the Iyan-Tama case and other articles on the crisis in Kannywoodposted 14 March 2009

Iyan-Tama granted bail, The Judge calls for a new Trial posted 17 March 2009

Raids on a film set last weekend and other developments in “Kano State Censor’s Board vs. Kannywood” posted 24 March 2009

Federal High Court strikes down Kano State Censorship Board’s objections; MOPPAN’s Lawsuit will go on posted 27 March 2009

Mobile Court bans listening to 11 Hausa songs posted 8 June 2009

Recent news on the activities of the Director General of the Kano State Censorship Board posted 24 June 2009

Arrest of singer Aminu Ala and the most recent scuffle of MOPPAN with the Kano State Censorship Board posted 6 July 2009

Breaking News: Singer Ala denied bail posted 7 July 2009

My notes on the court case of Aminu Ala today at the Mobile court attached to the Kano State Censorship Board posted 7 July 2009

Aminu Ala given bail on condition that he does not speak with media posted 10 July 2009

DG of Kano Censor’s Board taken before shari’a court posted 5 August 2009

The latest on the Iyan-Tama case from Nigerian News Service, plus new fees from the National Film and Video Censor’s Board posted 2 October 2009

Kano State Censorship Board shuts down Kano Music Festival hosted at Alliance Francaise, Kano posted 28 February 2010

Update: 3-day international music festival cancelled by Kano State Censor’s Board posted 1 March 2010

French Ambassador rejects the conditions of KS Censorship board for lifting ban on music festival, Punch reports posted 3 March 2010

Arresting the Music. Arresting Hope. Arrested for playing at a wedding “without permission” posted 11 March 2010

Interview with Hiphop artist Ziriums in this week’s Aminiya posted 18 April 2010

FIM Magazine Editor Arrested on accusation of Abubakar Rabo Abdulkarim, DG of Kano State Censorshop Board posted 4 July 2010

Kaduna State Filmmakers Association take Kano State Police, Court, and DG of Kano Censor’s Board to Court over breach of “fundamental Human Rights”posted 21 July 2010

Iyan Tama takes Rabo to Court for Defamation, and Other Lawsuits posted 18 August 2010

DG of Kano Censors Board Caught in Alleged Sex Scandal with Minor, Sunday Trust Reports, posted 29 August 2010

Press Release from the Motion Pictures Practitioner Association of Nigerian (MOPPAN) Calling for Investigations into the “allegations of  Sex Scandal against Abubakar Rabo,” posted on 31 August 2010

The Latest on the Iyan Tama Case from Nigerian News Service, plus new fees from the National Film and Video Censor’s Board, posted 2 October 2010

Iyan Tama Reaches Settlement with Director General of the Kano State Censorship Board, posted on 17 October 2010.

Daula Hotel Workers Report Not Being Paid for Four Months

(c) Carmen McCain

[NOTE: This blog post my own follow-up to a Daily Trust article by Abdullahi Yahaya Bello published on 11 December 2010. I report what I have been told by the striking staff of Daula Hotel. I have not interviewed the Kano State government. Where I quote, I am reconstructing conversations I had in Hausa and jotted down as notes in my notebook. I did not tape record the conversations, so they are not exact quotes]

[UPDATE: 18 March 2011. When I stopped by Daula Hotel this morning, the sign on the gate had been taken down, and people were working. When I asked them if they had been paid, they told me they had been paid for two months, and had stopped striking but were still waiting to be paid for three more months]

Daula Hotel, the Kano State owned hotel built in 1974/5, was once one of the nicest hotels in Kano. You can see it in the lines, in the airy covered walkways lined with trees and flowering bushes.

(c) Carmen McCain

It is no longer. I took these photos exactly a month ago 13 January 2011, after a growing curiosity about the closed gates and the handwritten banner flapping outside I saw every time I passed. The hotel lies in ruins, as if in an abandoned city, after a war.

(c) Carmen McCain

Daula Hotel has 140 staff. The few that were standing around in the hotel compound when I visited told me that they had not been paid since October 2010. In addition, they said they haven’t been getting their annual leave, and for ten years haven’t recieved their NSITF trust fund or retirement benefits. The families of those who have died, they said, receive no pension.

(c) Carmen McCain

The 11 December 2011 Trust article reports:

Weekly Trust findings show that since Daula Hotel, owned by the Kano state government was commissioned in 1975, there have been no major capital injection or rehabilitation work carried out apart from the cosmetic facelift given to the hotel in 1999 when Nigeria hosted the Under  17 World cup.  Mismanagement by successive governments and appointed managers of the hotel, Weekly Trust learnt, also led to the present state the hotel found itself.

According to Comrade Sadeeq Suleiman, branch chairman of the National Union of Hotel and Personal Services, the workers and the hotel are dying gradually. “To say that Daula Hotel has collapsed is an understatement as you have seen after going round the place. We think that there is a deliberate attempt by government to kill this hotel. If not, how can the Kano state government allow this hotel to decay while they have retainership in other hotels in town where they pay bills of nothing less than N350 million for accommodation, feeding and other sundry matters monthly? Yet when they send their guest here, they don’t pay.  It will baffle you to know that it takes more than six months for the government to settle just N2 million they owe Daula. If they give us half the amount they spend in other hotels, we won’t be where we are today.  They say we are a parastatal but they don’t treat us like a parastatal. Every month we have to go on strike before we can get our salaries. We don’t have service charge and above all, our pension contribution for 10 years was not remitted to the NSTIF. We are suffering. Those who retired have died without pension. We are hounded by landlords all the time and even children school fees are a problem”, he lamented.

For Comrade Dickson Aya, Assistant- General Secretary, National Union of Hotel and Personal Services, one of the pioneer staff of Daula Hotel, it beggars believe that Daula could be so ruined. “I was one of the pioneer staff of Daula Hotel in 1975. This hotel was not just the best hotel in Kano, it was the pride of the north. At its peak up to the late 1990s, we operated at full capacity. If you don’t book in advance, you can’t be sure of getting a room. We had about 300 staff strength then; we generated nothing less than N10 million monthly. Salaries were paid on the 20th of every month and service charge was 15th of every month.  We had the best laundry in town. Other hotels liaised with us to send them guests when our hotel is filled up. Weekends were something else. I cannot imagine that the same Daula today can’t operate 30 rooms successfully. It will shock you that we now generate sometimes about N40, 000 in a month.”

(c) Carmen McCain

He said the Shekarau administration is the worst thing to happen to Daula Hotel. “Seven years ago, things were not this terrible. At least, we were still patching things. But today, we are at a standstill. Governor Ibrahim Shekarau came here two years ago and saw the condition of the place. He met everywhere leaking and promised to address the problem in two weeks. Up till now, we have not seen anything from him.  We know that those in government have connived with other hotels in town where they inflate hotel bill to get their share. We are aware that if government bill is N5 million, they add another N5 million as their own share. I am a seasoned hotel administrator and I know what I am saying. What we are saying is that we are tired. If they don’t do something fast our frustration has gotten to a level where we can burn down this hotel. The cheating is too much,” he threatened.

Isa Umar, another staff of Daula Hotel said government has politicized Daula Hotel. That most of the people they post as managers to the hotel don’t know anything about hotel management. “Over the years, most of the managers they brought just came and connived with people in the Ministry of Commerce, the supervising Ministry to run the place down. The so called senior managers who are there don’t help matters either. On a monthly basis, they write all kinds of requisition that they never buy. Requisition for food, diesel, drinks, beddings and so on. Why can’t the government come and check all these things they claim to be buying. Today, it is Mai-ruwa (water vendors) that supplies the hotel with water. No borehole. Do you know that rats and snakes have chased guests out of their rooms in this hotel? Those in the laundry now use their leg and soda to wash clothes because the machines are bad. Look even those who have turned Daula into short service centre no longer patronize us because things have worsened. We are appealing to the government to come to the rescue of the staff and the hotel”

(c) Carmen McCain

A source who prefers anonymity, told Weekly Trust that the government has retainership with Tahir Guest Palace, Hotel Horizon, Royal Tropicana, Kano Guest Inn, Niima Guest Palace, among others. None of these hotels, according to him, is up to Daula but yet government neglected the place and prefers spending millions with these hotels. He said if government can give Daula N50 million every year, it will save huge resources they are expending on hotels and Daula too will generate profit for the government.

I delayed writing this blog post right away because they told me they hoped to be paid in the next few days. I did not want to post all these photos if they were about to be paid. Several told me that the governor had approved for them to be paid, but the ministry of commerce was delaying the payment. Today, when I visited Daula again, several asked me, “What happened to those photos? What happened to the piece you were going to write?” It has now been four months since they have been paid, three months since they’ve gone on strike.

(c) Carmen Mccain


Striking staff took me around the hotel, through the lobby, footprints marked in the deep dust and then layered over again. We walked through the overgrown gardens, and up the stairs into rooms where the doors hung off their hinges. Insulation dripped from smashed ceilings, and spider’s webs screened broken windows.

(c) Carmen McCain

Of the 192 rooms in the hotel, only thirty-five are functioning, they tell me. I ask them to take me to a functioning room. Dirty mattresses hang off of old bedframes, the walls are stained. A light bulb dangles from a wire in the bathroom. “How much would this room be if I want to stay?” I asked. “N5000,” they tell me.

The habitable room. (c) Carmen McCain

“How are you surviving?” I ask, “not having been paid for so long? How do you eat?”

“We try to manage,” they smile, grimly. “We ask relatives for help. We live on what little bit we’ve been able to save.”

“I have five children,” one man told me. “They have kicked them out of school. I haven’t been able to pay their school fees.”

“We’ve gone to the Public Complaints Commission, but they didn’t do anything. Daily Trust, Freedom Radio, NTA has reported it but nothing has come out of it. We are fighting for our rights, but the ministry of commerce says we don’t want to work. We want to work but how can we when we are not being paid? There are old people who have been working at the hotel from the beginning who are dying without seeing their pensions?”

“How long has the hotel been like this,” I ask?

“We’ve been needing renovations for a while,” they told me, “but we were managing. For the past seven years it has been worse. For the past five years, we have had to strike in order to be paid our salaries, but this time it has been three months. The governor came to inspect the place around 3-5 years ago, but nothing changed.”

(c) Carmen McCain

As they took me around the hotel, I could see that the place could be beautiful. The bones are all there. The garden is overgrown but alive. The fixtures, though broken, are attractive. I could imagine it a pleasant place to stroll on a cool Kano evening. But, for now, with its layered over footprints and shattered glass and dusty lion fixtures, it reminds me of C.S. Lewis’s description in his fantasy novel The Magician’s Nephew of an abandoned planet where everyone has died.

(c) Carmen McCain

The pool at Daula has an apocalyptic feel about it, drained of water, lawnchairs scattered haphazardly, a random couch, backless with the stuffing coming out.

(c) Carmen McCain

Once they had taken me around to the pool, the workers thanked me and left me to make my way back out.

The light had nearly gone by then, and the photos came out dull and gray.

(c) Carmen McCain